Monday, November 16, 2009

When Canada Was a Leader Our Initiatives Saved Lives

I feel a little guilty sometimes when I see Jean Chretien now. I never voted for Mr. Chretien but his statesmanship has humbled me. I also felt extremely proud the day he said that Canada would not be joining the Iraq invasion. Once again we stood our ground. Canada was a leader then, we are just followers now.

I think I took a lot for granted. All federal leaders before Stephen Harper put this country first. All federal leaders before Stephen Harper put Canadians first.

We are no longer leaders and the ad campaign painting Mr. Ignatieff as un-Canadian, has given us little reason to feel proud of the many great Canadians who helped to establish our international reputation. They are 'icky' now. "Just visiting".

Dig up Canada's Walk of Fame, because it's paved with the names of people like Mr. Ignatieff. Just as with women, peace-activists, environmentalists, scientists; they have all been marginalized and have no place in Harper's Canada.

But every now and then I get a glimpse of a memory of a once proud country, that punched above it's weight, and this story is very inspiring. Knowing that under Jean Chretien, Canada led the initiative against landmines is a wonderful memory. What will we remember now?

Canadian landmine initiative saved thousands of lives: report
By Chris Cobb,
Canwest News Service
November 15, 2009

OTTAWA — The Canadian-led treaty to rid the world of landmines has saved thousands of lives and significantly reduced production and use of the devastating, anti-personnel weapons, according to a new international report.

The Ottawa Treaty, which was implemented 10 years ago, made the use and production of landmines illegal in 156 countries that ratified the accord.

According to the 10-year review in Landmines Monitor, unexploded weapons have been cleared from at least 3,200 square kilometres of land in more than 90 countries.

In the past decade, 2.2 million landmines have been removed, along with 250,000 anti-vehicle mines and 17 million explosive remnants of war shells.

De-mining is painstaking and dangerous work usually done by men using simple hand tools.

The majority of landmine victims are civilians living with children in rural areas.

Typically, they step on landmines long after battles and wars have ended.

The international Mine Ban Treaty, signed in Ottawa in December 1997 and enacted as international law in March 1999, is seen internationally as one of Canada’s most significant diplomatic accomplishments.

But the new report, published by the umbrella group International Campaign to Ban Landmines warns that the treaty is still “a success in progress” with 5,200 people killed or wounded by landmines last year and 39 countries, including China, India, Pakistan, Russia and the United States, still not part of the agreement.

Russia and Myanmar are the only states known to still be using anti-personnel landmines but many rebel or terrorist groups still possess the weapons.

About a dozen countries are still producing landmines but, according to the report, the production is at an all-time low.

Paul Hannon, executive director of the Ottawa-based Mines Action Canada, said the study confirms “the wisdom of Canada leading the world to ban landmines.”

“This report documents clearly the progress that has been made and shows we continue to get closer to a world free of anti-personnel landmines” he said.

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